Robust return to travel expected this Memorial Day weekend

SAN DIEGO – This Memorial Day weekend is expected to be a big one as COVID-19 restrictions ease across Southern California.

Some 2.9 million residents of Southern California are expected to travel for the holiday weekend, Auto Club of Southern California spokesman Doug Shupe said. Travel in the region is expected to be up 64% from last year and 16% below where it was in 2019.

“The primary reasons for that is just increased vaccination, lower numbers of COVID cases across the country and then also just pent up demand,” Shupe said.

He said the hot spots for Californians are national parks, and it’s all about hitting the road. About 90% of those Southern Californians traveling will be going by automobile, according to Shupe.

But be prepared to pay pre-COVID rental car rates and even more at the pump.

In San Diego, a gallon of unleaded gas is $4.16 on average, up $1.26 from this time last year.

“They’re pretty high, but I don’t think it’ll stop people from going out,” said Peter Egersheim while at the pump. “They’ve been cooped up for the pandemic and everything.”

Some aren’t quite ready to hit the road, however.

“I’m not up to going anywhere because of COVID,” Jacob Hubbard said.

Robert Arends with Catamaran Resort Spa and Hotel and Bahia Resort Hotel said San Diegans are flocking to the beach for staycations. The resorts are almost fully booked for the holiday weekend, mostly with locals.

“It’s a really good time to get out in the great outdoors,” Arends said.

He says this weekend is the kick-off for a wide array of summer activities and travel.

“That travel bug is in everyone’s head right now and I think it’s going to be really fantastic for the rest of the summer,” Arends said.